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New Fashion, Classic Films

The Autumn fashion issue of New York magazine (that’d be the one with Tavi on the cover then) has pulled off a Photoshop coup, pairing the stars of classic films with key A/W catwalk pieces. It’s gimmicky, I know, but photographer Bobby Doherty has, in some cases, pulled off a fairly seamless transition; a fashion between guilty pleasure and pure unabashed, unironic fun.Marlene in Balenciaga! Meryl in Burberry! Marilyn in Moschino! In a week of many deeply shitty happenings, this made me smile.

Much, much more over at The Cut.

Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Saint Laurent boots

Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Saint Laurent boots

Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour and Dries Van Noten coat.

Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour and Dries Van Noten coat.

Brigitte Bardot in Contempt and Chanel scarf and top

Brigitte Bardot in Contempt and Chanel scarf and top

Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Moschino jumper and jacket

Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Moschino jumper and jacket

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Marc Jacobs dress

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Marc Jacobs dress

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Coat by Valentino, bag by Hermès.

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Coat by Valentino, bag by Hermès.

Things to Read #1

Anatomical collages by Travis Bedel (Colossal)

Anatomical collages by Travis Bedel (Colossal)

Things have been a bit, um, stilted on the blog front recently.

Ever since I stopped writing my column, I’ve been at a bit of a loss. Should I still blog? And if so, what should I write about? One of the simplest things to remember about blogging is that you should probably love it. You should love writing or taking photos or making videos and you should love sharing your thoughts, quirks and the cool things you pick up along the way.

I’ve come to a point, after moving countries and going back to university and getting a new job and dying my hair alternately blue, green and a bruise-ish violet, where I’m at a crossroads. One point, four different directions and no real idea where I’ll end up. More to the point, no idea where this blog will end up.

The trick, really, is to find your niche.

The only thing I did with real regularity, apart from the column, was book reviews. So, Im going to keep doing that.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been getting into longreads; real, meaty articles that are the total opposite of the thoughtless, bland, soundbites that make up a huge chunk of internet journalism. Damn our goldfish memories. Every Sunday, I read Ana Kinsella’s clicks and, for half an hour or so – usually over a pot of tea and a jam donut – I get sucked into a Good Reading vortex. I highly, highly, recommend checking her Tumblr out. She’s a smashing writer too.

When I’m tootling around on the internet and I find something I know I’d like to read in real depth, I save it on Instapaper for later. So, in the spirit of sharing, and because Ana is OK with me blatantly copying her, here are some things to read. This will probably be sporadic (as soon as the Instapaper filing cabinet is full, I’ll write another post), but we’ll see how we go.

The Surrealist Ball, 1972 (So Bad, So Good)

The Surrealist Ball, 1972 (So Bad, So Good)

‘The Devil and the Art Dealer’ – Vanity Fair. “The artworks stolen from the Jews are the last prisoners of WWII. You have to be aware that every work stolen from a Jew involved at least one death.” 1,280 works of art, originally stolen by the Nazis, were recovered in an apartment in Munich a few months ago. The billion dollar hoard includes works by Picasso, Brancusi, Otto Dix, Oscar Kokoschka… pretty much every European early twentieth century painter of note, plus a few Old Masters. Because what’s an art hoard without a Canaletto?

‘Geek Love at 25: How a Freak Family Inspired Your Pop Culture Heroes’ - Wired. Geek Love is one of two books that every person I have ever lent it to, without exception, loved (the other one being ‘Rip it up and Start Again’ by Simon Reynolds). Read this, then read the book. And if you’ve already read the book, read it again.

‘Why are We Obsessed with 90’s Film Fashion?’ – Never Underdressed. An interview with Elizabeth Sankey.

‘Simone Rocha: Just a Little Bit of a Lady’ – The Telegraph. Man, she’s cool.

The Vintage Black Glamour book is one to look forward to (Miss Moss)

The Vintage Black Glamour book is one to look forward to (Miss Moss)

The Detective Wore Prada’ – The Guardian. Guardian writers share their best-dressed of the small screen.

‘Are Celebrities the New Fashion Critics?’ – Style.com. A big, fat, resounding ‘NO’ is the answer here.

‘Showgirls is a Good Movie’ – The Awl. It’s VERSAYCE! Heh. I love Showgirls, though that pool sex scene with Jessi Spano and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper still gives me the the willies.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel: The Amazing Backstories Behind Ten Memorable Props’ – Paper.

The Irish Boys of Central Saint Martins – The Irish Times. I interviewed three really, properly, achingly talented Irish fashion grads for this article.

‘How American Pageants are Turning Politics into a Beauty Parade’ – The New Statesmen. It seems that the average American beauty queen can easily segue into a career in politics. Hmm. A big, fat, hmm.

‘Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin’ – The Atlantic. Scientist, feminist and an all-around remarkable woman.

Licentiate Column 09/05/13: Bill Cunningham New York – What a Lovely Fella

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Photo by The Sartorialist.

There are days when you feel restless and annoyed, unsure of yourself and bored with everything. Nothing is right. Everything is limp. The brain feels overstretched and chewed over, like a discarded piece of chewing gum stuck to the sole of your shoe. I call those days ‘Sundays’.

Sundays are made for couples – providing, of course, that they both have the same opinion on football. If you’re single, Sundays are usually made for the television.

In moments of laziness and indecision, it’s often a good idea to pop the TV on. The Spurs match not being entirely enticing, I flicked onto the hard drive to see what treasures were stored there. A Beyonce documentary (nah), Gone With The Wind (tempting, but too long) and three BBC4 documentaries about women’s issues (that I doubt I’d process very well after a glass or two of wine). As you can tell, I live in a very pro-woman household – that or someone spontaneously deleted all my brother’s carefully recorded episodes of Family Guy and American Dad again.

Whoops.

I ended up watching ‘Bill Cunningham New York’, a lovely feelgood documentary about the well-respected New York Times street style photographer. It’s a study in integrity, passion and the insane capacity for knowledge that a love of fashion – indeed any art or craft – can inspire. If you have not watched it, I beg you to go and do so. Even if the thought of fashion trends makes you want to vomit, watch it. Even if you’re only using this page to clear up dog poop (I applaud you for recycling, I really do) and this sentence manages to catch your eye, watch it. You will not regret it. Put the paper in the bin first though. Or frame it. Whatever, I’m not bothered.

Bill Cunningham is one of those rare important people in the fashion industry who simply reports style instead of dictating it. Every day, he puts on his cheap blue smock, loads his camera with film and cycles the street of new York on his Schwinn, looking for something beautiful to photograph.
In ‘Bill on Bill’, a rare autobiographical piece that Cunningham wrote in 2002, he said, “Back in the 60’s, I remember that Eleanor Nangle and I were sitting at one of Oscar de la Renta’s first shows in New York when she heard antiwar protesters down in the street. She said: “Come on, Bill, we’re leaving. The action isn’t here.”” We got up and skipped out of the show. I knew from photographing people on the streets that the news was not in the showrooms. It was on the streets.”

This was written a full ten years before street style blew up – some might say right in our faces. And yet, whether you are aware of street style or not, Bill Cunningham remains, unchanging. He’s one of the most important chroniclers of our time, and has been for several decades. He’s a burst of warm sunshine – the perfect person to get to know on a self-conscious Sunday.

Prada Candy – A Pastel Daydream

It’s Easter Sunday, and if you’re anything like me you’re forgoing the obligatory bank holiday pub blow out for another slice of delicious, delicious meringue.

The new Prada Candy films are just one more slice of sweetness for the hungry palette. Starring Léa Seydoux and directed by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, it’s a) very cool and b) very French in that there’s a fair amount of drama but no discernible conclusion but everyone retains their sense of louche fabulousness – feel free to argue with me on that point.

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The Face of Modern Street Style

TAKE MY PICTURE from GARAGE Magazine on Vimeo.

Have you seen Take My Picture yet? If not, take nine minutes out of your evening and watch it – it’s very illuminating.

Featuring Tim Blanks, Tommy Ton and Susie Bubble, this Garage Magazine-commissioned mini-doc explores the street style phenomenon as it exists today.

Regardless of whether you think street style is the modern runway or a load of old hooey (or, like me, you think it’s a bit of both) there’s a new insight to be gleaned after watching this.

And at least if you don’t learn anything, you’ll get to see Anna Dello Russo briskly walking in circles for Tommy Ton’s benefit. More entertaining than it sounds, I promise.

The Reading List: Katharine Hepburn – Rebel Chic

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I’ve read a few bummer style books recently, so I was relieved to find that Katharine Hepburn: Rebel Chic was, like the woman herself, just delightful – a breath of fresh air during a brisk walk through the professional and personal costumes of a legendary actress and bona fide tomboyish style icon.
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It’s an all-angles approach that permeates this deceptively small book – essays cover Hepburn’s attitude to clothing, her tomboy style (with reference to the blog of the same name), how she was active in the design of her stage and film costumes and an exploration of her relationships with various costume designers.

The pictures selected for the book are divided quite evenly between off-duty Hepburn and her more polished onscreen characters. The latter third of the book is devoted to her costumes, many of which she kept after filming had ended. Hepburn even recycled costumes – wearing a dress from the 1939 stage version of The Philadelphia Story some thirty five years later in The Glass Menagerie (it only had to be let out by two inches, fact fans).
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Katherine Hepburn’s personal style has been the subject of urban myth, which this book busts, but quite gently. The essays are informative but not speculative. It’s not a biography – there are no references to scandalous affairs or scurrilous rumours – it’s just about clothing as pure self expression. Whether to conceal or reveal, Hepburn was adept at using her clothes to convey a message. This book is evidence of that.

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Katharine Hepburn: Rebel Style is published by Skira Rizzoli and is out now.

WIN! Tickets to the Irish Premiere of ‘The Eye Has to Travel’

Yep, I’ve got a lovely prize to give away to a lucky reader. The Dublin Fashion Festival  in conjunction with Moet & Chandon and Studio Canal are giving me two tickets to the Irish premiere of Diana Vreeland documentary ‘The Eye Has to Travel’, taking place at the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin on September 9th – that’s almost two weeks before it comes out in the cinema, fact fans.

For those not in the know, Diana Vreeland was the fashion editor who brought the Swinging Sixties to America proper.  As editor of American Vogue for the decade, she became known for her ostentation, flamboyance and neverending stream of improvised bon mots while also remaining a champion of youth movements and subculture.  She wrote several books and made the Costume Institute at The Met Museum in New York a serious draw for tourists and fashion lovers alike.  Her all-red drawing room in her apartment was styled after ‘a garden in hell’, which says a lot about her personality.

Her’s was a unique eye – her professional and personal flair has yet to be repeated by any other figure in the fashion publishing industry.  Her distinctive voice is only one of three that I can impersonate successfully (the others are Katherine Hepburn and Little Edie Beale by the way, which are pretty much all variations on the same theme).

I’m a big Vreeland nerd, having blogged about her multiple times (here and here) so I’m absolutely delighted to be giving these tickets away. The most fabulous fashion editor ever and free champagne?  You’d be foolish not to enter.

Moët & Chandon, the world’s leading champagne house, has teamed up with Dublin Fashion Festival to give style lovers a first look at the captivating fashion documentary,Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. The film is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of Diana Vreeland, who was one of the most influential women of the 20th century. The influence of this enduring icon forever changed the face of fashion, beauty, art, publishing and culture.

For more than 260 years, Moët & Chandon has been the reference for fabulous celebrations, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary with the pop of a cork. Since the early days of Hollywood, Moët & Chandon has played a glamorous role in the history of film, both on and off screen. With this exclusive screening of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Moët & Chandon will reinforce its love affair with film by hosting a sumptuous champagne reception for all guests before the screening.

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the documentary follows the life and career of Diana Vreeland by the people who knew her.

Sound good? There are two caveats. You and your plus one must be able to attend the event on Sunday, September 9th at 4pm (of course). You must also be over 18 to enter.

How to enter?  Just leave a comment below with your email address.

Want an extra entry?  Follow @The_Licentiate on Twitter and tweet ‘I want to win premiere tickets to ‘The Eye Has to Travel’ with @The_Licentiate and @DublinFashion! http://tinyurl.com/8v2gbwl’

Want ANOTHER entry?  Like The Licentiate and Dublin Festival of Fashion on Facebook and tag us in a post on your own wall with a link to the competition – posts without a link to this competition page will not be counted.

PHEW!  A winner will be picked at random on Thursday evening.

Good luck!

About Face: Supermodels, Then and Now

Really want to watch this.  Alas, it will be premiering on HBO which means it’s only a matter of months before More 4 picks it up for broadcasting (if at all).

Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

From the pervasive obsession with youth to issues of substance abuse, self-esteem, race and plastic surgery, beauty is a commodity in society today.

Directed by acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, ABOUT FACE: SUPERMODELS THEN AND NOW explores the lives and careers of legendary models, highlighting the complex relationship between physical appearance and the business of beauty…

An official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, ABOUT FACE: SUPERMODELS THEN AND NOW was filmed by Greenfield-Sanders in his trademark intimate portrait style, and features interviews with some of the most celebrated visages of the 20th century. Through conversations with supermodels, including Carol Alt, Marisa Berenson, Karen Bjornson, Christie Brinkley, Pat Cleveland, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Jerry Hall, Bethann Hardison, Beverly Johnson, China Machado, Paulina Porizkova, Isabella Rossellini, Lisa Taylor and Cheryl Tiegs, the documentary reveals the roles they played in defining — and redefining — beauty over time.

ABOUT FACE’s look at beauty as a commodity and the pressures of overnight stardom is interwoven with a celebration of the reinvention that can come with aging. Several models talk about the sense of freedom, satisfaction and longevity they derive from learning to age gracefully, whether by focusing on family or new interests and business opportunities.

- via press release

But I want to watch it NOOOOOW!  Excuse me while I have a Violet Beauregarde moment.

Here’s the trailer.  I absolutely love what Carmen Dell’Orefice has to say about plastic surgery.

Licentiate Column 19/07/12: Marilyn Monroe and The Style Icon

Monroe caught off-guard by Richard Avedon

On the fifth of August it will have been fifty years since the death of Marilyn Monroe.  The actress was such an icon, had such a physical presence, could project a character so well that her costumes have become incredibly famous – more famous, perhaps than any other actresses.

Think about it; the white, billowing ‘Seven Year Itch’ dress, the strapless pink ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ dress, the shimmering, see-through ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress are all symbols of one woman’s incredible charisma.

However, one has to question whether or not Marilyn Monroe was a true style icon.  The characters she played were icons, but was she?

The film stars we admire for their style often translated their costumes into everyday life.  Audrey Hepburn was a true gamine, Grace Kelly was elegant and smooth like glass, Katharine Hepburn full of athletic vim and vigour.

Marilyn Monroe’s writings and personal observations are full of insecurity, focusing on the duality of her nature.  Was she the blonde bombshell or the bookish introvert?  There is a lot of conflict between her inner and outer lives.  As a consequence, she never seemed comfortable in her own skin, her clothes either bombastically tight in public or shapelessly, comfortably wrapped around her in private.

As Marilyn went from her twenties into her thirties she went through a change that almost every woman goes through; she somehow sloughed off the need to impress or express her innate self through her wardrobe and instead refined a style that suited only her.

Travelling or with friends, she abandoned circulation-cutting waistbands, exchanging them for camel Dior overcoats, men’s Brooks Brothers tailoring, Ferragamo pumps and silk Pucci dresses, which she favoured both for their comfort and ability to flatter.  She would be buried in her favourite green silk Pucci shift.

When people talk about Marilyn Monroe’s style, what they’re probably talking about are her film costumes – and why wouldn’t they?  She really did inhabit some of the most memorable outfits of all time.  Even Marilyn knew the allure of her costumes – she would often get a dressmaker to run up several copies of dresses that she wore in films (in a range of different colours, of course).

It’s not true that clothes maketh the woman.  In the case of Marilyn Monroe, the woman maketh the clothes.  Many of her film outfits were worn by other stars before her, especially in Monroe’s early career.  Monroe wore two dresses that had also been worn on screen by the vastly underrated but no less smouldering film noir-era actress Gene Tierney.  Compared to Marilyn, Tierney looked almost unremarkable.

It wasn’t what she wore – that was unimportant.  It was all in how she wore it.

This is the true essence of Marilyn Monroe’s style icon status.  This is what sets her apart from the Hepburns and the Kellys.  The wardrobe was unimportant. It was the woman who really mattered.  Marilyn Monroe’s most stylish asset was her ability to be luminous.  Her light is what makes her so memorable today.

Ghost World Screencapped

Having a post adolescent existential crisis? I know I am. Watching Ghost World always makes me feel a bit better, even though ultimately, it’s quite a depressing film.

I don’t know what it is that makes women identify with Enid. For me though, it’s the thick glasses, cumbersome boobs, lack of direction and the inability to have a pleasant conversation with strange men because they’re all idiots.  Every single one.  I suppose a lot of people wish that they could do an Enid when life has gone all wobbly – if you’ve seen the film you know what I mean.  If not, watch it – if only for Enid’s mad style.

And buy the book.  Definitely buy the book.